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Malaysia Says Piracy (Might Be) OK for Learning 464

mkbz writes "a Malaysian newspaper published a story quoting Malaysia's Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, who condemned the use of pirated software for business, but also said they may turn a blind eye to piracy when it comes to education: "But for educational purposes and to encourage computer usage, we may consider allowing schools and social organisations to use pirated software." is learning more important than copyright enforcement? could each of the pirated works found in schools be written off as donations? how can this benefit both the people AND the software makers? Read the full article here."
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Malaysia Says Piracy (Might Be) OK for Learning

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  • Good for them! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AnimalSnf ( 149118 )
    I know my university (as well as many others in US) has to pay MS more than once for the OS (once as part of the purchase price and then a license for the site), but then again if it wasn't at a discount it take up the ENTIRE IT budget.
  • by Corvaith ( 538529 ) on Sunday July 28, 2002 @05:06PM (#3968575) Homepage
    If there is really no other software available to do what needs to be done, and your schools honestly do not have the money to pay for it... morally, I think it's okay for the schools to just copy it, legal or not. Knowledge trumps money.

    A lot of software, though... you don't really need that commercial version, you can get something free, especially in educational institutions. If all you need is office software for writing papers, then get Linux and OpenOffice, don't pirate copies of Microsoft software.

    Maybe this should be common sense, but it seems like common sense really isn't all that common, especially when it comes to intellectual property issues.
    • Fair Use? (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm not sure they should even call it piracy under the circumstances. In theory at least this could be considered fair use; at least one purpose of fair use is to promote knowledge and education. I know current US case law regarding fair use would hardly uphold such an interpretation, but it is not that far-fetched.
      • I'm not sure they should even call it piracy under the circumstances. In theory at least this could be considered fair use; at least one purpose of fair use is to promote knowledge and education. I know current US case law regarding fair use would hardly uphold such an interpretation, but it is not that far-fetched.

        Agreed.

        WWTJD? (What would Thomas Jefferson do). He'd support this as valid fair use for sure, though obviously current law has deviated from his original ideals.

      • I can see the argument when the university is non profit or state run, but how about all those (and there are many) for-profit schools? They are a business. Just ask the stockholders if they are a business if you are not sure.

        Does it make any difference that in the process of making money they might also be teaching students ... on pirated software?


    • You sez:
      " ... and your schools honestly do not have the money to pay for it..."

      Alas, someone who never set foot on Malaysia has the impression that Malaysia's schools has no money.

      On the contrary, the money for the schools are PLENTIFUL ! Just last week, there was a new "bill" authorizing RM 5 Billion (almost 1.3 Billion) for the schools' computer project alone.

      And there were, and will be, lots of other "Billion RM bills" for the schools.

      The only problem in Malaysia is, the money were squandered by the officials - in other word, massive and rampant corruptions.

      If there's no corruption in Malaysia, there is NO NEED for any "Piracy is Okay for Educational Purpose" thing.

      I hope the BSA in Malaysia will spearhead the anti-corruption move now, that one of Malaysia's cabinet member has given his go-ahead for software piracy.

      • You will note that there was an 'if' statement in front of that. I really don't know anything about the state of Malaysia's schools--but I think this applies to *any* school system, anywhere, if they lack the funding to properly educate their students.
  • by SeanTobin ( 138474 ) <byrdhuntr.hotmail@com> on Sunday July 28, 2002 @05:07PM (#3968578)
    WARNING:

    All files contained in this ftp are for EDUCATIONAL USE ONLY and must be deleted within 24 hours. No members of any law enforcement or governmental agency or anyone affiliated with stated agencies are allowed, and you must disconnect now.
  • Self-importance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AirLace ( 86148 ) on Sunday July 28, 2002 @05:08PM (#3968579)
    Why are they better than me? I'm a student and because I can't afford proprietary software licensing schemes, I use Linux. There are other less costly yet equal or superior systems out there. Just because you can't afford to buy something doesn't give you the right to steal it.
    • That's why on the majority of the planet, patents, trademarks & copyright comes under the civil court.

      & Criminal legislation in regard to IP in the remaining countries is relatively new, since about 25 years ago.

      Say with trademarks, until then you could sell fake fashion label stuff (fake Adidas Romes in the 70's) quite legally as far as the crimes act was concerned. Although Adidas could sue you for trademark infringement in the civil court. Plus the police could prosecute you for fraud if you did not inform your customers that the shoes were fakes.

      It's due to corporate lobbying, about 25 years ago, that Copyright/trademark law also entered the criminal codes in the US & later elseware.
    • ...There are other less costly yet equal or superior systems out there. Just because you can't afford to buy something doesn't give you the right to steal it.

      It depend on the software. I have to use MATLAB for some projects for school. I could use in the labs but I would much rather code at home. If I only use it for school and delete when the semester is over I have no problem downloading a cracked copy on KaZaA lite.

    • Re:Self-importance (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Sunday July 28, 2002 @09:11PM (#3969334)
      "Just because you can't afford to buy something doesn't give you the right to steal it."

      Nobody's saying "I'm poor so I have the right to steal it." What people are saying is "I need to know how to use these things in order to succeed in life, but there's no outlet to let me do it affordably."

      I'm a Lightwave animator. When I started using it, it cost $2,500. You cannot get a job using Lightwave unless you know how to use Lightwave. Here's the thing though, LW's not about pushing buttons, it's about being an artist who understands his/her medium. School can teach me how to cut clay, but it cannot teach me to be a scupltor.

      The simple fact of the matter is that in order to use any 3D App, you have to be intimately familiar with it. Without a job, there's no way I can pay $2,500 to buy the software. (Plus that's really risky, what if you're better off with Maya?)

      The resort is to 'acquire' the software. Is it right? No, it's piracy. Should Newtek do something about it if they know you have it? Yes they should, otherwise the floodgates open to people being able to legitimatley use LW without paying for it. Should Newtek look the other way? Oh absolutely.

      3D Apps are unusual software because you can make a good living knowing how to use it. I learned how to use Lightwave, and now I have a job where I use it extensively. Not only has my company purchased a full license plus 2 upgrades, but now I have my own copy I paid full price for. My 'piracy' 6 years ago earned Newtek 2 full licenses, 2 upgrade licenses, and repeat business from me in the future.

      One day, the licensing will be figured out such that it's okay to use unauthorized copies of software for educational use. Until it is, yes it is wrong. But there's a difference between being legally wrong and being ethically wrong. Newtek profited off me being legally wrong, but ethically right.
      • Re:Self-importance (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AirLace ( 86148 )
        This has been the most compelling argument against my post. You say that you made the decision to break the law for your own career and monetary gain, and I understand why you made your decision though I don't necessarily respect it.

        Personally, I'd rather not take that risk. Life's too short -- software authors have the right to demand whatever sum they want for their product, and capitalism should ensure that I can vote with my wallet. And I do exactly that: I get everything I need done with the free software I have.

        On the other hand, I think the attitude that pirating software isn't stealing is a bit silly. It reminds me of Dr. Shipman, a UK serial killer who was recently imprisoned for dozens of life sentences. He killed only elderly people; does the fact that these elderly people were going to die in a few years anyway matter? No. He's still a murderer. And you're still a criminal.
        • Well I hope you take one thing away from my post: I didn't deny it was wrong.

          I can understand you not respecting my decision. I hope you can at least see that I made the most of my situation. Both Newtek and I ultimately benefitted from it, but that didn't happen without LOTS of work on my end. I had to impress my employer in order to get hired. I had to prove to them that it was worth spending $2,500 for me to get the software. I had to demonstrate to them that the upgrades were worth the $500 price tag each time around.

          Do all people who get unauthorized software go that far? I doubt it. As I said, I'm not denying it's wrong.

          Cheers.
    • It's not a question of better or worse, it's a question of what the Malaysion people will spend their time and energy doing. They might decide that it's counter productive to spend tax dollars enforcing copyright laws against schools, as we here in the US see fit to do. Remember the BSA slapping the LA school district for a quarter million dollars? Philidelphia for the same ammount? A country that has trouble feeding and educating it's people might think twice before spending tax money on laws, courts, inspectors and enforcers to then give tax monnies collected for schools to a foreign corporation. We here in the US might think twice about it as well.

      By the way, what great propriatory software do you know of that you would replace Linux with if you could afford to? Let me assure you that money has nothing to do with my abandonment of M$ junk. Me thinks I smell a troll looking for someone to justify "stealing" or coppying M$ O$.

      Training people to use M$ toys is a bad thing to do. The API, formats, and the system itself are all unstable. The time spent learning little left hand tricks would be better spent learning something real or more stable, like good comunity supported free code. The only thing worse than encouraging people to do study M$ trash is paying the M$ tax to do it.

      Sorry if that sounds a little hard on Microsoft, but they broke my trust a long time ago. Far from assuring the world that they would mend their ways, they have justified their behavior and gone on to such abuses that the federal government noticed. Never deal with dishonest people. Free yourself from M$ today.

  • Students have no money to buy stuff. However, if they get a good education, they get a lot of money to buy the things that they like. Hmmm...

    I'm sorry for that last comment, I had a moment of temporary insanity. Bad Malaysia. Bad. We here in the U.S. should extend our copyright terms another 90 years in retalitation!
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Sunday July 28, 2002 @05:16PM (#3968600)
    Company A is a relatively new, but wealthy graphical effects company that does effects for commercials, promotional vidoes, and traning multimedia. They need graphic artists capable of using a new modelling and animation tool we'll call Tool B.

    Tool B costs 1500 dollars and has a complex registration system that involves connecting to a registration server. (Yes, high-end tools do this.) University graphical art programs would rather use Tool C which costs $150 and a 'normal' registration system so that they can install it on more than one workstation. (1st instance of 'piracy)

    Artist D knows 3d animation and modelling concepts. He's even spent a few hundred dollars on software. He is capable of doing the job for Company A, but doesn't know the tool. There is no way he can possibly afford to buy Tool B, but he *can* download it and the crack for its registration system of alt.binaries.3dtools.yadda.yadda... (2nd Instance of Piracy)

    After Artist D demonstrates his mad graphic skilzz in his interview, Company A hires Artist D, justifying licensing of a new copy of Tool B at $1500 a pop. Despite 2 instances of piracy, the makers of Tool B have gotten their money and have a user who is using their tools in the industry.

    The bottom line here is that because Tool B was used in an educational sense, it makes more money than it would if it weren't being used.

    There are many high-end graphical tools that you can very safely plug into the 'Tool B' slot, like 3DSMax, Maya, Lightwave, and Even Photoshop/Illustrator. Despite the fact that these high-dollar tools are the most pirated pieces of software out there with the exception of games, the companies that make them are still raking in the dough. They scream and cry about 'lost sales', but they know as well as we do that if there wasn't at least some piracy of their products, they wouldn't have nearly so many business users.
    • by RussGarrett ( 90459 ) <russ@nOspam.garrett.co.uk> on Sunday July 28, 2002 @05:29PM (#3968660) Homepage

      Alias|Wavefront have already picked up on this with Maya - they've produced Maya Personal Learning Edition [aliaswavefront.com], which is free, and provides all the features of Maya Complete, but it saves to it's own format and has render resolution restricted (I think).

      Which is a good thing, because Maya is the most painfully hard-to-use program I have ever encountered, although the results it gives are really stunning.

      • I was not aware that Alias had done this. If they have, bully for them. They've already done a good job of making Maya a defacto standard. By putting out 'anti-piracy' copies of their software like this, they're helping to reduce the numbers of people who download regular versions as well as making sure that more people know how to use their software in a business setting.
      • Its not just free. They go and distribute extra learning material with it... its great... truely inovative thinking to the piracy problem

        and as its just for learning it of course comes with a watermark on your renders and it saves to a closed format that the comercial version cant read (to save companies trying to skimp on licenceing fees)

    • Err Maya.... (Score:3, Informative)

      by MosesJones ( 55544 )
      Already is free for non-commercial use check out their download [aliaswavefront.com] page for details.

      Its an interesting point but Maya is an example of a company that has already thought of this....
    • I understand your logic, and I see how the example you gave could be beneficial for all involved. But it sounds suspiciously like the arguments that are commonly made for trading copyrighted music. Yes, I'm sure there are many instances where somebody has downloaded a copy of So-and-so's latest single, decided that they liked it, and bought the CD that they otherwise would not have bought. Everybody is happy, and there was much rejoicing.

      The problem is, the copyright holder (of either the software or the music, whatever the case may be) doesn't allow such "trials" to take place. The way I see it, there are two reasons for this:

      1. The company realizes that there may be some benefit to them by allowing the piracy to go on (such as the case mentioned above), but they feel that the costs outweigh the benefits. They may or may not be right.

      2. The company (incorrectly) does not see any benefit that can come to them through piracy. This lack of information may happen to be good for them (costs > benefits) or bad for them (benefits > costs).

      The issue that I have, in either of the two cases, is that we as (potential) consumers have no right to make this decision for the company. Even if we violate copyright with the best intentions ("If I like this copy of Photoshop, I'll buy 50 licenses for my company."), we have still overstepped our rights. If a company is smart, they have invested a lot of energy into determining the price for their product, including educational licensing prices. I have to believe that Microsoft knows what is best for the company better than I do.
  • Well, they might not be totally OK, but I'm sure if they had a choice about people pirating THEIR software or using FREE software, they'd go for people pirating THEIR software (they're not making any money either way, but at least their software becomes standard in the industry and school/college graduates know it since they've been using it a few years in school :-)

    Didn't Bill Gates say something of that sort a few years back, like "I'd rather have them pirate our software than someone else's."
    • Hello, did we already forget that MS audits schools [slashdot.org], even to the point of insisting that they buy full licensing, including windows, word, etc, for every box, including Macs. The above argument only applies in a healthy marketplace, in which the various agents are actually free to make choices.

      M$ might have not cared a few years ago when MS was flush with money and sales from companies also flush with money. However this is no longer the case, and MS has been doing everything to get cash from strapped companies. In particular M$ is trying to extorts as much money from schools as possible [aaxnet.com] with only the Linux counter threat [eschoolnews.com] saving taxpayers from a multi-million dollar theft.

  • Piracy is a interesting word, one that really can't be defined without an understanding of our democratic/capitalistic society.

    Copyright holders need to realize that countries that are sovereign from the US may make decisions that are not in their perceived best interests. The countries have a right to do that. If the company has a problem with that, they have two choices. 1) Play politics in that country 2) Not do business in that country. Unfortunately, the third option is often 3) get US to get pissed at that country (not necessarily playing fair, IMO).

    I think this decision will ultimately have two outcomes, 1) Students will start to like using certain pieces of software (in the copyright holders interest) 2) Students will have less respect for copyrights (not in the copyright holders interest)

    Just my .02

    -Sean
  • by ApheX ( 6133 ) on Sunday July 28, 2002 @05:22PM (#3968630) Homepage Journal
    If the software is for educational use - why not just charge whatever it cost to get the physical product to the user. So, if a copy of Office is being bought for educational use it costs say $10 - the price of the packaging, materials, shipping and handling. If the software is being used by a FOR-profit organization, the retail pricing applies. This allows educational institutions to legally own the software, while not 'hurting' the software company quite as bad. It would simply require selling more in the retail sector to make up for the R&D and programming costs. I do understand that you can get NFR copies of software, but even then the prices of these products are way over the physical cost of the product.

    Make software more affordable and people will buy it instead of pirating it. Yes, you will still have people who insist on having a free lunch, but I think this would curtail the problem considerably.
  • In the past, I believe I have heard an AutoDesk executive comment on this in an interview about piracy. While I am sure it may not be their official position, they commented about be light on enforcement of piracy in the educational arena (for students that is) since it was getting users hooked on the software who would be legit professional users of the product after getting out of school.

    It seems like many companies (at least the smart ones) have a love hate relationship with the education piracy topic. In the Java world at least, I am seeing many companies get what I believe is the best license. Free to use for development etc. but production rollout of the product or the output of a product needs a commercial use license. I know at least the Resin servlet container and Oracle's Java IDE are like that.

    -Pete

  • As a Malaysian (Score:5, Informative)

    by SteelX ( 32194 ) on Sunday July 28, 2002 @05:30PM (#3968664)
    As a Malaysian, I am ashamed to read on Slashdot that a Malaysian minister actually says that it's okay to pirate software, never mind that it's for educational purposes. Pirating software is still stealing software, no matter how you look at it.

    Like the Slashdotters who have posted before me, I've resorted to using Linux and other open source alternatives instead of pirated software.

    Having said that, I do understand the reasons that motivate many Malaysians and other citizens of developing and third-world countries to pirate software. One of the main reasons is that commercial software is usually sold at the equivalent price of US dollars. This means that software is almost four times as expensive in Malaysia. A US$100 software sounds relatively cheap here in the US, but in Malaysia it would cost almost RM400 (RM = Ringgit Malaysia). Many individuals, educational organizations, and so forth find such prices ridiculously high. Imagine buying 10 licenses: it would cost US$1,000 here, but it'll cost RM4,000 there. Therefore they resort to pirating software.

    It would be good if software companies here in the US provide alternative prices for developing countries. It's really unrealistic to expect people to pay for software at such prices. Maybe they already do that, but I don't know.. I use Linux. :)

    Actually it would be even better if governments advocate the use of open source software. But first, open source software must get its act up as a viable alternative for commercial software. At the moment, it's not "there" yet, for many desktop applications anyway.
    • As an american, I'm tired of my country's corporatist culture raping other nations like your own. I'm tired of them redefining words like theft and piracy to fit their agendas, and acting as if laws so new, that the check they used to buy them hasn't quite cleared the bank. I'm especially sick of them acting as if these laws have any moral weight at all.

      I'm sorry, but no one in this country will go hungry, should your schools ever decide to infringe our dubious copyrights.
    • Pirating software is still stealing software, no matter how you look at it.

      Don't know about Malaysia, but in the laws of most countries copyright infringement is distinct from stealing.

    • Re:As a Malaysian (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ignavus ( 213578 )

      Pirating software is still stealing software, no matter how you look at it.

      No. If I steal your installation disks, I have stolen your software. But if I merely copy them (which is not real piracy[1] at all), I have stolen (deprived someone of) nothing. All I have done is illegally copied them. It may be an offence, but it isn't the offence called THEFT.

      Think of a hammer. If I take your hammer, that is theft - I am depriving you of the use of your hammer. If I see some gadget you have made, and I build an exact replica - I haven't deprived you of anything. You still have your gadget exactly as it was before I copied it.

      What's more, I haven't even deprived you of the money you might want me to pay for copying the gadget. Why? Because there is no guarantee that I would have bought it at the price you charge. That is why estimates of the value of illegally copied software are quite ridiculous - they assume that the demand would remain steady even if the price were severely increased (from zero for illegally copied software to hundreds or thousands of dollars if bought) ... I really doubt that demand for any software is THAT inelastic. Only some users must have a particular version - most others can use alternatives. Even MS sells Works for people who won't buy Office. That is why so many companies are now considering Linux instead of paying MS's new prices. The software market IS price-sensitive.

      Illegally copying software is illegal - but the government can determine which instances of copying are legal and which are not. A government could pass a law saying that software licences do not apply to educational institutions. Of course, the governments of other countries may fight against such laws. And the country with the most significant software companies (the US) carries a lot of clout in international markets and trade forums. The Malaysian government is trying to have a bet each way, I think: Retain "strong" copyright laws as required by international trade agreements, but wink at breaches in certain local circumstances. Trouble is, the rest of the world can see them do it.

      [1] When did you ever see a pirate movie where the raiders came on board and COPIED the contents of their victim's ship? (Gee, great gold chain you have here. Could I make one just like it?)

    • Pirating software is still stealing software, no matter how you look at it.

      Actually, copying software is only stealing software ONE way you look at it. To steal, you have to violate the boundaries of property and ownership. The boundaries of what are ownership is completely culturally specific. Some cultures have promoted slavery, ownership of people, such that if you freed a person who was owned, you were stealing. Most cultures today would call such ideas ludicrous, because we no longer accept that people can be owned.

      You say copying software is absolutely and definitely stealing. This is only true if exclusive rights to a certain set of computer instructions can be "owned". There IS no absolute answer to that, and there can be no absolute answer to that.

      Ownership is simply a mutual societal agreement. We all agree cars are owned, so we have created penalties for taking someone else's car. We don't think air is owned, so breathing air off of someone else's property does not require compensation.

      Why then have some cultures chosen to consider sets of computer instructions ownable? The truth is, it's primarilly because people who thought they could profit from such an idea payed lawmakers to promote such an idea, and the idea spread. As soon as words such as "pirate" and "theft" were used, people started to get the idea that maybe software could be owned. Don't underestimate the value of labeling and defining something to change the public's view of the world.

      Now we have a software "industry" that "produces" software which is "pirated" by a process of "software theft" by "hackers".

      Just as easily we could have a "field of computer science" that "invents" software which is "shared" by a process of "scientific communication" by "scientists".

      Those two paragraphs describe the exact same phenomenon. The first is a criminal act, the second a well respected act which benefits all of humanity. The only real difference is the labels, how we define things, and the cultural values which come from that.

      As a person from Malaysia, you should respect that each culture has a right to choose its own cultural values. There's nothing inherently wrong with them choosing to think of it as sharing, education, scientific advancement, and the betterment of their society. The only think that is inherently wrong is for us to respond, "No, the way we look at it is absolute, and is the only way to see it!"

    • It would be good if software companies here in the US provide alternative prices for developing countries.

      But if they did that, there would very quickly be a large market for people to buy the Malasian edition of 3D Studio Max ($100 USD equivalent), bring it to the US, and sell it for $150, as compared to the $$$$ USD it sells for normally. Of course, the way to prevent that is.... region codes like in DVDs. Eh, sorry, what was that about free trade again? :-)

  • by RobPiano ( 471698 ) on Sunday July 28, 2002 @05:30PM (#3968668)
    As tempting as it is to say "its for the children", software piracy is not really in theirs or anyone's best interest. I see the reasoning for piracy in schools; students trained in the latest/greatest software will have an advantage over those who don't. I've known several people to even pay for their college education by working as programmers/temps/etc. But by pirating what you are really doing is keeping software costs high, and possibly limiting competition.

    Part of the reason we like Linux is because of its low cost. If Windows were free, however, Linux's use might wavier. Schools will immediately use the most famous choice, ignoring competition if things are free. School heads are idiots; don't expect anything from them other than the bottom line.

    I think the best solution is to have government or local contributions to pay for reasonably priced software. A competitive software company will price their software reasonably if they have a large school base to purchase their software.

    Really the temptation for piracy only exists because software/music/videos are not priced so that normal profit can occur. All these markets are in excess, but I think because of the danger of losing it all to piracy, smart companies will soon price things more reasonably.

    I will gladly pay $20 for my operating system. I will dance with glee to spend $50 on Photoshop. I am willing to pay for software, and my community's software if priced to compete. Don't take competition out of the equation.

    Rob
  • Finally, some sense. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by man_ls ( 248470 ) on Sunday July 28, 2002 @05:32PM (#3968680)
    Educational (at least publically-funded primary and secondary schools, i.e. high school) institutions frequently lack cash--so as a result, they either use pirated software (dangerous and illegal) or simply do without necessary software (i.e. half the machines don't have MS Word because they can't afford licenses for them.)

    By allowing the software companies to write off software used in nonprofit institutions, they are in essence getting the same thing as if they sold the profit--only the number goes on the other end of the stack, on the debt side, and cancels a part of it. It keeps them happy (there is a simulated positive cash flow), and keeps the nonprofit organizations happy because they don't have to spend as much on licenses.

    Perhaps if a large software manufactuerer were willing to announce such a policy in the United States...If you're an educational organization, catalog the number of pirated copies of Microsoft software, and send it, along with a copy of a certificate of tax excception and a signed affidavit of compliance to Microsoft Piracy...the promise being MS won't take action against you for the declared copies. Forget to declare some, and you're in trouble...

    The Malaysian government has a very different stance than we have here in the US, but it seems to be one that will be beneficial for all parties involved.
  • As a Free Software user, I have deep respect for copyright laws.
    I expect everyone to act responsibly and condemn piracy. It is a task for government to act against software piracy. That is a way of keeping the market open and honest.

    Monopolies were born from and are sustained by piracy. How do you think Microsoft software got so widespread?
    The corporate world abuses the lack of government attention to software piracy in any way they see suitable to their own corporate strategy.

    By not reacting against piracy, you allow a convicted monopolist to undercut competitors (Free Software in this case) on pricing. And education is a key area where finally some competition might be taking off in the near future.

    But not if this minister gets away with his irresponsible deed. Maybe we should ask the BSA to react if they haven't already?
  • Proprietary software vendors bend over backwards to give out discounts to educational institutions. Why? Because people who become comfortable using a specific piece of software will want to buy that software later for home and work purposes. In fact, Apple's strategy for the past 20 years has been to give discounted computers to educational institutions in the hopes that this would spur consumer adoption of the Macintosh.

    Microsoft gives ridiculously deep discounts to educational institutions. I have friends who go to Indiana University. At the bookstore there, you can pick up Windows XP Professional (no activation required) for $5. The entire 5-CD version of Visual Studio .Net is available for $30. At these prices, there is absolutely no incentive to pirate the software. If you can't afford $5 for Windows XP, how can you afford $8 from Linux for Cheapbytes, or the bandwidth for downloading the ISOs, the CD burner and blank CDs to burn them?

    Condoning pirated software in these cases is simply unacceptable. I find it discouraging that a government would encourage educational institutions to pirate software instead of ironing out legitimate deals with software makers.
    • Microsoft gives ridiculously deep discounts to educational institutions. I have friends who go to Indiana University. At the bookstore there, you can pick up Windows XP Professional (no activation required) for $5. The entire 5-CD version of Visual Studio .Net is available for $30. At these prices, there is absolutely no incentive to pirate the software.

      Usually this is because the University has a site license for the software that allows them to do this. The license is paid through tuition and student fees, so you are paying more than just the $5 media cost for the software.


    • You are still paying a very high price for the software, it's just rolled into your tuition costs. It's really quite underhanded, considering you cannot opt-out.
    • WinXP is $100 for the upgrade for Pro here at JMU, VS.NET is $100 and Office XP Standard is $150 with pro being $200.
      • Apparently, Visual Studio .Net is 6 CDs, because it's $5 per CD.

        More information. [indiana.edu]
      • Believe it. I go to Indiana University, and that's precisely how it is. I'm no expert on the exact details of the arrangement, but IU has a "special relationship" with Microsoft, allowing the students to purchase the software for roughly cost ($5), or you can download (all? most, certainly) of the same software for free from the school's secure servers. However, you won't find these deals with other companies. Most companies offer educational discounts, but it's not of the same level. In a Java class I had a couple of years ago, they had boxes and boxes of J++ that they would hand out to anyone that wanted them. (Most of this "free" software, such as Office, expires after one year.) Photoshop? Nope. OS X? Nope, same deal. Anyway, everybody around here pretty much understands that IU sold their soul to the devil to get it this way. They give us money and "software donations", we indoctrinate our future leaders and hook them on the dirty crack that is Microsoft. Or something like that.
    • I find it discouraging that a government would encourage educational institutions to pirate software instead of ironing out legitimate deals with software makers.

      I find it encouraging that a government would put public education over corporate profits on their national agenda. This is not that far-fetched or anticapitalistic as you make it seem. In the US all corporations are chartered in the public interest - while these charters are rarely the subject of debate, at least by law corporations are supposed to operate in the public interest, and they are generally outlawed from doing things obnoxious to the public interest (e.g. polluting, selling illegal drugs, etc.). It seems a fair use exception to EULAs that allowed copying software for educational purposes would not be that unreasonable under the circumstances.

      Also, I agree that corps should be encouraged to behave responsibly by giving to educational institutions. But most of the big software corporations do very little in real terms other than enough to get good P.R. for it. Your example about "ridiculously deep discounts" from MS assumes that is all they charge - the real charges for that software are levied on the educational institution in the form of large licenses. At the university where I work we have such a license to allow students and faculty to copy windows, etc. for a nominal cost above the price of media, but the institution paid for those licenses to the tune of millions. On top of it, the license is not advertised, which means that many students pay full price for the software anyway.

      Perhaps a license to "pirate" is not the answer, but what is valuable here is that one country is at least raising the issue that the way we look at the relationship between software copyrights and legitimate state interests might neede to be rethought.

    • The original poster quoted $5 to pick up Windows XP from a university but failed to state that the institution has already paid Microsoft a big license fee, granted it is at a discounted price. The license fee is ultimately paid by the students through tuition fee.

      This is all well and great for students who choose to use Microsoft products, but there is no opt-out, you have to pay that percentage through tuition even if you do not use it. It's bad for OSS uses, and even worse for students who doesn't own a computer.
    • Microsoft gives ridiculously deep discounts to educational institutions. ... If you can't afford $5 for Windows XP, how can you afford $8 from Linux for Cheapbytes, or the bandwidth for downloading the ISOs, the CD burner and blank CDs to burn them?

      Once you leave school, you cannot use the software any more. And you cannot buy the upgrade, which means that you will have to pay full retail price once you are no longer a student. And by that time, you are already ``locked in'' to the proprietary office suite/development software/operating system/etc.

      And then there's always the ``freedom'' aspect of Free Software over closed, proprietary software. Far too few students concern themselves with that aspect though.

  • Perhaps instead of legalizing pircay Malaysia should mandate fair and reasonable educational pricing for software sold in their country. Whether you like it or not, companies are mostly for profit and development costs must be returned. Another issue to consider is how this will create a "software welfare" system. It doesn't work for helpig people find work and food and it won't help in this situation either.

  • how can [piracy] benefit both the people AND the software makers?

    Seems kind of unlikely, doesn't it. Perhaps if a benevolent alien race someday visits Earth and rewards the founders of those companies that allow piracy for educational purposes with a vial containing a potion of eternal youth... bet you never thought about that! (Hey, you can't prove it won't happen.)

    -a
  • Microsoft and others should realize this. They can let the educational institutions run rampant with piracy if they want, and it wouldn't make much of an effect. Those who want to pirate will do so. There's not a whole lot stopping them. Those that insist on being in full compliance may do so by investigating alternatives. In the end, it makes no difference to the school. What it makes a difference to is the IP owners of the software being used.

    Those students are going to use the software in school then go out into the workforce and use the software that they're familiar with. This means that employers are going to be using the software that most of the workforce is familiar with. And the corporations are much more likely to spend the cash on software than the starving college student is.

    You're not going to make the money from the student or even the institution. You're going to make it from that corporation that will be spending the next 20 years buying upgrades. And when that graduate goes home from work, he's going to buy a copy to use at home. You'll lock that person in. To deny yourself that legacy by forcing the first purchase of a potential many, you risk losing all those subsequent sales, a foolish prospect indeed.

    -Restil
  • It's a matter of public policy for govenments to decide what intellectual property protections they want to provide in their nations.

    In the U.S., public policy on Copyright is embodied in U.S.C. Title 18, and derives from Article I Section 8:

    "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries"

    The idea of piracy is peculiar, in that it assumes that the Right in question is inalienable, rather than legislatively granted by the state. Further, it derives from the concept of individual ownership, and depends from that on a right to license use.

    -

    The apparent public policy in Malaysia seems to achieve the goal of promoting the Progress of Science and the useful Arts, without securing *exclusive Right*, but rather by securing *some* rights.

    In fact, this is *not* beneficial to the Open Source Software movement, as such.

    By ensuring that schools *and social organizations* are permitted to use the software for educational purposes, they will have established an egalatarian secondary market, where price of the software is no longer a factor. In this market, the *most fit* software wins... not the *least cost*.

    One of the consequences of this must be that use of Open Source Software in such situations will decline: for all the vaunted peer review and quality, it's usability that wins in this or any market.

    Familiarity will also breed commercial piracy (an area where the title "piracy" is still applicable, accoding to the article), particularly in the middle margins between educational institutions and large companies (e.g. small business started by recently graduated students).

    All in all, this looks to be bad for Open Source Software advocacy, and bad for commercial software comapnies.

    But good for Malaysia.

    And that is the purpose of public policy in Malaysia, isn't it?

    -- Terry
  • Right, let's say that companies only have the resources to go after either "educational pirates" (people who pirate software so they can learn how to use it) or "vending pirates" (people who pirate software so they can sell it to others for cash). Which would it be better for them to go after?

    Vending pirates take the software for free, and then sell it to others at a reduced price. Result? The company loses X potential customers, thus reducting its revenues.

    Educational pirates take the software for free, but keep it to themselves just so they can learn how to use it. They wouldn't buy it anyway, but when they get a regular/greater source of income, they may purchase a legitimate copy of the software to make up for it. Result? The company will lose 1 potential customer in the short term but probably gain a customer in the long term, thus increasing its revenues a little.

    Who would YOU go after?

  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Sunday July 28, 2002 @06:50PM (#3968920)
    Piracy is OK if it's done by a school! How lame. And the first response I saw was someone saying indeed it was OK because he had done it !

    What crap! I understand that many people don't like Microsoft and are glad to screw them, but as a legal principal this makes no sense at all. What if you are a small company making educational software? How would you feel to suddenly hear governments discuss that maybe it was perfectly OK for your customers to steal your product?

    Here's a more reasonable solution: Catch a big monopoly misusing their monopoly in the market with abuses that are clearly illegal, prove it in a trial, and rather than letting the monopoly choose their own punishment or threaten to break them into two monopolies, nationalize the bastards! Then you could give that software to any schools you want and still not muck with the copyright laws. The income could be used to lower taxes, and the extra layers of government mismanagement would help ensure that the smaller companies could compete!

  • is learning more important than copyright enforcement?
    It depends on what lessons you're trying to teach. If you want to teach students how to use the software, then learning is more important. If you want to teach students how to be good consumers, copyright is more important.

    But if copyright enforcement is more important than learning, isn't the act of learning piracy in itself? Lets say you read a book and learn the concepts it's addressing. By learning, you are copying the information to your brain, and you are capable of further infringing the owner's copyright by discussing the book with people who haven't read it.

    Fair use? Nah that's just a liberal attempt to legalize piracy, like marijuana, for "educational" or "medicinal" purposes.

    Suggesting the possibility that learning might be more important than copyright enforcement also leaves open the possibility that copyright enforcement may be more important than learning. And if you're still thinking about this tomorrow, I'm going to sick my lawyers on you for infringing my implied copyright.

  • In my (left) opinion, ofcourse it's ok to use pirated software if (1) you can't afford it, but really need it - otherwise, you're in a circle you can never get out: no money, no software, no skills, no hightech-industry, no progress, no money; and (2) why would I pay the ridiculously high fees of most software packages (not only the Redmond rip-off) _before_ I use it? I'm not gonna spend $500 on some graphics suite without at least trying the software for some months. I like it, I buy it; otherwise I delete it. How can they expect us to pay these high prices, without being able to test it? I never pay before I receive the service, surely not when it's that high for something that in reality is just a $1 digital copy.

    Same goes for music - how can you buy a cd without knowing you like it? Who has the money to gamble on it with the current price?

    Furthermore, I play music, and I've been thinking... Imagine I make a cd. Some people will buy it (hopefully ;) ), some will copy it, and some will just not care about it. The group that copies it, must have a reason: most likely, they can't afford to buy it, or maybe they don't think it's that good they will spend $20 on it - which is actually the same as not really having money.

    Do I mind that those people enjoy my music? Not at all. I actually would prefer that people copy it if they can't afford it, and enjoy what I made. For free. How can I mind? If I don't allow those people to listen to my music, nobody gets anything out of it. If you really don't want or can't pay it, and like it, please, by all means, copy it. Give me at least the pleasure to know that someone likes what I do.

    This is what I do too. I am a student. I download songs. The cds I really like, I have on a list. When I have money, I will pay for the cds. If I wouldn't download it, I wouldn't know it, and I would never buy it. And even if I wouldn't pay for it, maybe I pass it on to someone who does, or maybe I check out a concert of the band. Why do you make music? Only for the money?...

    But, ofcourse, I am kinda leftish. :)

    Now, this counts as much for software (I just can't explain as good as with music, because I don't really write software). You can't go to the shop and ask for something you don't know, or didn't try. So, you must try the product first. Learn it. Use it. Only then you can express your appreciation. Especially with this ridiculously high prices some programs have.

    When these students graduate, they'll make money. And pay. Possibly even recommend your product. Look ahead, see it as an investment. If I would be Micro$oft, I'd give all my software away for free (except hard costs like packing and shipping) to development countries. It won't cost me a thing, because that software is made already, I don't have to do anything about it; and it's not like they will buy it anyway. That's where there's possible market growth, not in the US or Europe, those markets are pretty satisfied (that's probably why Micro$oft raises the price).

    If they don't allow this 'pirating' to happen (mind, they don't really loose anything at all), free software or local companies will take the market when those countries come 'round (let's hope they do), and you've lost one of the only markets where you can still get rid of your products.

    Well, at least that's my view. I wouldn't mind at all if open source philosophy in software, music etc will take over though.

    Here's to rights back to consumer.
    • Here's to rights back to consumer.
      Err, actually, its "here's to rights back to the (non)-consumers.

      Consumers are by defintion people who consume what they purchase.

      I have a simple question for you: would you condone the same (left) attitude if the issue here was GPL Violations? The principle of the matter is the same: if an individual/small company really needed to violate the GPL to get out of the circle, would it be okay then, too?

  • Well, maybe, as a soveriegn nation has a wide responsibility to it's citizens.

    BUT this is only a reasonable choice if all other avenues are exhausted, i.e. use of free software, approaching vendors for licenses that fit the particular circumstances, etc.

    If Malaysia acts totally irresponsibly in this matter, what software company is going to export to Malaysia?

  • 1- Send money out of the country's economy buying software for students.

    2- Rip off foreign software companies, spend more money on the education itself and not the software, allowing a better workforce capable of competing with external firms to develop.

    Yeah, that decision is really a hard one.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    While in school, I had to pirate software. I simply could not afford it, but I needed to learn it, so I bit the bullet and did it. Once I was out and working in the market, I made it a point to buy the full versions of all the software I use on a regular basis, and I'm religious about it.

    I benefitted by having the software on-hand to learn with, and since I became so familiar with it, and needed it for my career, I became a repeat customer of the products. Had I not done this in the first place, I'd be slinging fries (hey, my degree is in English) and Adobe, Macromedia, etc., would be out a paying customer. It became a win-win situation.
  • This could be an interesting twist to the situation with the big media companies. If a country has a very small, or almost no, media industry itself and the big multinationals (like the film firms, Microsoft, etc.) start throwing their weight around, the government always has the choice to simply nix their country's copyright law, so that piracy ceases to exist there.

    The multinationals lose all their power to control distribution within the country, and they can't even just deny the software to that country at all - because they can just download warez copies from other countries, that cease to be illegal the moment they cross the border of the country in question. They could try and get the country's ISP to refuse them service, but they're unlikely to accept that, especially since all those warez downloads will mean a fat payoff to the ISP for the bandwidth. The country gets a massive boost to its citizens quality of life (hey, all the fun stuff is FREE now!), and its trade gap evens out.

    What would happen if some country did this? Would countries go to war over a breach of the Berne convention?
  • Copyright law makes all sorts of exceptions and allows copying under many circumstances. Furthermore, reverse engineering is OK in many countries, both for educational and commercial purposes. Those are fair use rights.

    We, the people, have the right to decide what we protect under copyright and what falls under fair use.

    Analogies between "intellectual property" and physical property are self-serving and legally inaccurate for the most part. People who say that "piracy is OK" have already given into the mindset. No, piracy is not OK, but copying should not and does not constitute "piracy" under many circumstances.

It is better to give than to lend, and it costs about the same.

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